Art Colony 2013
We are already accustomed to the fact that the annual Cered Art Colony project that takes place every summer and revolves around a site-specific and unique theme totally engross us by its inventiveness and varied content. The Art Colony held for the eighteenth time in 2013, following the tradition established by its predecessors in its theme (Linen from Cered, the Ben-room, Prototypeetc.) and chose the subject again from the secluded, tiny village in Nógrád county. The name of the theme: Garden can be misleading at first, because it is very quickly associated with the herb garden, or the vegetable allotment by the house. Perhaps you think of the front garden of modest but well-kept cube-shaped houses with simple but colourful country flowers such as aster, mallows, daffodils, garden sage blooming. Their lingering scent stuns visitors meandering on the streets of thevillage already amazed by the picturesque scenery.
The myth of the Garden has been holding Europeans captive for ages. It has always had very strong metaphorical content. Let us think to the hanging gardens of Semiramis, the wonder of which has been inimitable for thousands of years, or to the medieval hortus conclusus, the Christian garden of Eden, or on the triptych “Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch. The art of gardens is divided into eras in order to clarify their enormous importance in European culture. Starting from the end of the Middle Ages they had stylistic periods, similar to the history of art. The simple, chronological list shows the historical order. The medieval stately wildlife parks were followed by the Italian Renaissance and Mannerist gardens, which were replaced by the French and then the English Garden styles, which then gave way to the Far Eastern influences, first the Japanese then the Chinese gardens.
In addition to being pleasing to the eye, providing a place where one can relax and lay back in the philosophical sense the magic of the garden is in its transience. The fact that the garden is located between culture and nature, thus a man walking in a garden – unlike the observer of a painting, who remains excluded – is part of it and experiences it from inside. As Herman Parett put it so succinctly: “… the paradox of the garden is objective: the garden shows on the one hand the perfection of nature, on the other hand the absolute power of man over nature” These ideas were further spun by the participants of the Art Colony of Cered. They were given the various formations of the existing gardens (orchard, flower garden, herb garden, front garden, etc.) as a starting point and were able to exercise the power of transubstantiation of art.
As set out in the task, although gardens always have physical limits, as they are fenced in areas, the artistic reflections in Cered had no set limits. It is no accident that the word “vision” appears in the motto of this year’s Art Colony, and the participants also reflected freely on this year’s theme: Garden. Of course what they did was not reshaping the allotment gardens of the villagers which had been made so human over long years of toil. It was only the starting point, a source of inspiration for almost all artists. The artists who came from different countries – and hence had very different concepts about gardens – approached the theme in a variety of ways. The photographs of Branimir Ritonja show local farmers performing their daily routines in their allotment gardens. In the rural setting – reminiscent of classic paintings – the photos of the farmers’ wives posing in their plastic aprons, or the farmer in boxer shorts are both humorous and somewhat ironic.
Christoph Eckelt’s nostalgic photos suggesting seclusion ponder over the poetic relationship of the lone figure in deep contemplation and the landscape, taking very seriously the above-mentioned theme: vision. The art-director of the Colony Csaba Fürjesi’s ironic tondo called Fragrant gardens shows a smoking, chugging truck polluting the environment, whose aggressive existence disturbs the idyllic solitude of the man in the foreground. The other image of Fürjesi pays homage in many ways to the tradition of painting. Again, he has used the form of tondo as in the Florentine Renaissance and in such a way as to paraphrase Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass. In the picture you can see in the background a beat up Barkas minivan and the soft curves of the Cered hills and in the foreground there are naked men, while next to them some clothed ladies are chatting.Cered has inspired the participants, many have experimented with new art forms. The Land-art installation of Fürjesi called Santa Clara shows a fruit tree from the garden of the Art Colony surrounded by 12 artificial molehills, the number having a sacred meaning, as if the tree would be protected by the magic circle like a magical necklace.
Ivana Sláviková created embroidered Easter eggs. The stunningly original works of art are taken back to their place of origin the chicken coop, and this replacement of the eggs carries conceptual content with its unusual context. (How to teach chickens about Art-Series) Ágota Krnács in her Artwork Between the Earth and the Heavens Only the World is Round analyses the relationship between finite and infinite space and the Man appearing in it. The figures of children playing, lying and stretching nylon foil on the fields on the gentle slopes of hills and under the sky representing the infinite, as well as the carefully chosen horizon gives both poetic and philosophical content to the series.
The installation entitled More Female Garden Gnomes by Kun Cecília with its humorous imperative gives the viewer a wide interpretation. The coloured apricot tree sap installation with the application of coloured yarn into the grooves of the bark of the tree creates strongly expressive picturesque surfaces. Metka Kavcic turns lifeless, withered trees into works of art, making them an entity by adding wire and glass, as if the resulting worksof art were a symbol of the rebirth of nature. The organically shaped skein lends a new meaning to the otherwise useless fruit tree, making it possible for it to live on. The artwork of Nina Mankin from the UK called Portable Memory Cupboard, which can be interpreted as the counterpart of the cabinet painting presenting the baronial collections of baroque art, represents a bygone world as a nostalgic monument. The glass case is set in front of the backdrop of a mysterious forest, displaying everyday objects, which thus appear as if in a museum showcase, turning the bric-a-brac objects of fetish. She made her second piece Public Memory Preserves with preservation and conservation in mind.
Eszter Palik’s video installation Through the Mirror… show the outside world in the oval mirror over the dinner table in a dark room. She is interested in both the contradictions of reality and virtuality and the inner and outer worlds. The camera is recording in the middle of a cornfield, like as if it were an impenetrable jungle or plant maze turning round and round. We feel as if we have been lost, do not see the way out of the thicket, which is further enhanced by the blurred vision due to the mirror. László Sánta repainted the garden draw well completely lifting it out of its original functionality. The resulting colourful object of the garden gets a new role, it becomes an ornament of the garden with its magical function. This playful, transforming spirit is even more apparent in Sánta’s other work. With a little paint he transformed a small pebble of the garden path into a skip stone. So the piece of pavement – like the ugly duckling in the story – is transformed into a symbol, ist flamboyant colours harkening back to mosaics of the Byzantine Empire. The draw well, the centre of the garden, a humanized environment, symbolizes the connection between heaven and earth and the abundance of water, and is synonymous with life. The well has also inspired Bruno van den Eshoo from the Netherlands. In his photo series he shows sociologically inspired images with conceptual overtones of the inhabitants of Cered, standing next to their own well. The series depicts the inhabitants – the mayor, a minor, a housewife, a pensioner, an unemployed person, a nurse, a driver, a farmer, a salesman, a geography teacher, etc. – with a bucket in their hands, in everyday garb. The photos show that although the life is constantly changing and some archaic forms are constantly decaying, and are about to go extinct, the well house – the umbilical cord of the garden – retains its traditional form.
An example of the diverse cultural reminiscence is the performance of Jozef Suchoza entitled Yggdrasil, for which he drew inspiration from Germanic and Scandinavian mythology.. The ash tree with its healing power, whose crown soars into the sky and its roots extend deep into the underworld, offers plenty of inspiration for the contemporary interpretation. Orsi Szemethy chose the cemetery as a setting for her installations. The anthropomorphic wooden statues which are given a new meaning by the paint that remind one of skeletons. The brittle wooden figures on the quadrangular tombs perplex us and recall the still life of Baroque vanitas-motifs.
The colourful ink pictures of Imre Szemethy on which decorative leaves and flowers are applied in a frieze like manner, and remind us of the Xenia still life of ancient mosaic floors. We are witnessing a metamorphosis: the leaves detached from the stems on pure white paper come to life as moving, breathing beings.
The 18-year-old Art Colony, which has now entered adulthood, provides year after year that exchange is possible between different cultures, and that they can be continued. Nevertheless a society sealed and bound in solid traditions gives the artists coming from many countries with free and open spirits endless inspiration and possibilities to create new values. In this sense it is a synthesis of the arts, since in addition to fine arts and programs other contemporary art movements appear at the closing event such as theatre, music, dance, and film. These productions do not only reflect on each other very inspiringly but also fit in well with the community of this tiny village. So the villagers also identify with the values of the art colony, take pride in the works of art created there, and often provide not only the place or the models for the artists, but in a certain sense take part in the creative process.
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